Blood Red Shoes - Fire Like This
Back in 2007, the music industry received a blast of fresh air in the form of Blood Red Shoes who, while they had been around since the end of 2005, burst into the limelight with the blistering 'It's Getting Boring By The Sea'. Not only was it unusual to have just two members in a band at a time when four or five piece guitar bands were 'in', here was a duo who weren't afraid to avoid production glossiness and release their music how it should be heard: raw, intense and recorded as live. Fire Like This sees them take this to the next level and end up with a sound so raw that you'd have to double check that Steven Ansell and Laura-Mary Carter aren't playing in the same room as you.
The album starts off at a blistering pace with a trio of tracks which, in the inimitable Blood Red Shoes fashion, have a drumbeat played at a speed that would rival the speed of light and dirty, grungy riffs that defy you to ignore them. Lead single ‘Light It Up’ is the strongest of the three but mainly comes out on top because of its behemoth of a chorus: catchy, powerful and passionate, it’s got a strong claim to being one of the finest comeback singles of recent years.
However, just when you think that Fire Like This will become one of those follow up albums that just repeats what worked well on the debut without adding anything new, ‘When We Wake’ begins and takes your breath away. The majority of the track is driven by Laura-Mary’s vocals with the drums and heavy riffs taking a back seat and it results in a gorgeous track. It shows a side of Blood Red Shoes that is rarely seen: usually the confident young adults, ‘When We Wake’ sees them in a more fragile and emotionally, rather than musically, intense state.
Fear not though, Blood Red Shoes aren’t about to turn emo on us. Normal service is resumed and remains throughout the majority of the rest of the album although the brilliant use of tempo and dynamics prevents it becoming a chore to listen to. This is perfectly showcased on ‘Heartsink’; the track bursts into life at the usual BRS speed of 100mph but then slows down and softens for the verses before gradually cranking it back up and getting grungier for the chorus. It’s not exactly complex but is brilliant in its simplicity.
While they might stick with the tried-and-tested musical blueprint for the majority of the album, the duo have progressed thematically. Box Of Secrets mainly saw the band wax lyrical about the banality of their current life, but Fire Like This sees the band infuse this with emotion and an added sense of maturity such as on ‘When We Wake’ – “In the end is this all we can ask for? / Breathing every day and night just waiting / Calling out but silence / Talking but no words”. As if to prove their growing maturity and progression as a band, they decide to go all dramatic and dark on us for the album closer ‘Colours Fade’. Originally released as a free download, it is a seven minute epic that you wouldn’t perceive to be Blood Red Shoes if it weren’t for the trademark duel vocals. It’s spacey and weird in a brilliant way and is the kind of track that the band will be able to have fun with live to leave their fans thinking they’d step out from a gig and into an existential sci-fi film.
Fire Like This might not push musical boundaries but it is a definite step forward for Blood Red Shoes, with the somewhat frantic nature of their debut effort replaced by a growing confidence and maturity as musicians. A famous band may have once turned it up to 11 but this album sees the duo break the amp controls on their way to domination of the British rock scene.